There are some basic triathlon rules in place at each event.  During a triathlon race, course officials will guide you and you should always obey any officials or marshals. They are there to enforce rules for your safety and everyone else on course.

Triathlon Rules & Regulations

Always follow the direction of the course as marked. Race day volunteers will also provide you with verbal direction at their discretion.

As a rule of thumb, Tri-Alliance always recommends to do a course walk-through, particularly of the transition area if you are unfamiliar with the course you are racing at.

For current members, Tri-Alliance will host pre-race training session on the Saturday morning prior to Gatorade Triathlon Series to ensure our athletes are familiar with the swim, bike and run leg.

Tri-Alliance also runs a free clinic to the public on the Saturday prior to Gatorade Triathlon Series, to ensure all competitors are familiar with what to expect on race day.

Ensure body numbers are visible at all times. This also extends to your bike, helmet and a bib with your race number if you are racing from Olympic Distance and onwards.

Mark your body with a permanent marker prior to your race. Most races have volunteers who will do this for you. The race you enter may specify where these numbers must be placed, so either have a volunteer mark you or check guidelines before having a friend mark you or marking yourself. Most races require your upper calf and upper arm to be marked. These numbers will identify you as you come out of the swim and transition to your bike.

Ensure you attach your bib number to a race belt by slipping the race belt clips through the holes in the top of your bib. Clip your race belt around your waist during your bike-to-run transition so that the number is displayed to your front. Race belts are not supplied, but safety pins usually are. If you choose not to invest in one, use safety pins to attach your race number to the front of the shirt, jacket or tri suit you will wear during the run. Attach the number prior to the race, not during your bike-to-run transition.

NOTE: Only matching body race number and bike numbers will be permitted to remove the bikes from the transition area. This means without a race number you cannot enter the bike compound. Furthermore, non-competitors may not retrieve your bike and belongings post race – unless is special circumstances as decided by course officials.

Ensure you have your timing chip on. On race morning every competitor needs to ensure that the timing chip in their race pack – which is worn on a Velcro band, is safely and tightly enough secured around your left ankle.

The timing is computerised to provide times in each leg of the race, including your transitions.

The timing chip will be taken off you after you cross the finish line by a race day volunteer.

Complete triathlon clothing wear must be worn at all times – tops and bottoms (for both males and females).

As a Tri-Alliance athlete, we encourage our athletes to wear Tri-Alliance Triathlon Suits for comfort as well as style.

All competitors must wear a triathlon suit compliant with the TA RCR. For clarity a competitor may, at any time during an event, including during a non-wetsuit swim, wear a suit that is comprised of 100% textile material such as nylon or lycra but must not include rubberised material such as polyurethane or neoprene.

In accordance with TA Race Competition Rules July 2016 – Page 6 Triathlon Australia’s Sun Protection Policy, this suit may cover the shoulders and arms. It may also contain a zip.

Wear your swim cap to ensure you race in the correct category.

Some races have upwards of 15 waves, and at any given major Triathlon, there may be 25+ different age groups and competition levels. To ensure you are not in the wrong age group or competition level, you must wear your designated coloured swim cap to ensure the safety of yourself and others during the race.

Whenever you are handling your bike, you must wear your helmet and it must be done up. This is a mistake many novice triathletes make, and can result in a penalty or in some cases, disqualification.

You must put your helmet on before you handle your bike, and you must also wear your helmet all the way up until you have safely racked up your bike at the competition of your bike leg.

In addition;

  • A competitor is not permitted to cycle without appropriate footwear or with a bare torso.
  • A competitor is not permitted to make any forward progress without the bicycle and all of its component parts.
  • Bicycle helmets are compulsory and must be approved by a testing authority which is recognised by a national federation that is an affiliate of the ITU.
  • An alteration or addition to any part of the bicycle helmet including the chin strap, or the omission of any part of the helmet, including an outer cloth cover, is prohibited.
  • A competitor must clearly display race identification number at all times on the bicycle course. Those not complying may incur a Yellow Card Stop-Start penalty. However if the Technical Official considers that the identification number has been unintentionally lost, then the competitor will not be penalised.

Never interfere with  another competitor’s transition area and equipment.  If you accidentally disturb another competitor’s equipment, ensure it is returned to its original position before continuing your race.

It is prohibited under Triathlon Australia Rules to rack your bike in a transition area that isn’t your designated area as per your race kit. In addition;

  • A competitor may only have a bare torso when moving from the swim exit to their designated transition area or moving from their designated transition area to the swim entry, the latter in a multi swim event.
  • A competitor must mount and dismount the bicycle at the respective designated mounting and dismounting zones.
  • A competitor must at all times rack his/her own bicycle only at their designated bicycle rack location and leave it in a stable position. It must be racked by either the seat or both brake hoods.
  • A competitor must at all times place all their equipment at their bicycle rack location.
  • A competitor must not interfere with another competitor’s equipment, but where accidental interference occurs the offending competitor must replace the equipment to its former position and state before proceeding.

Always stick to the left side of the bike and run course, unless overtaking.

A competitor passing on the inside (left hand side) of another competitor during the bike leg will receive a Blue Card Time penalty for illegal pass.

You may also be in breach of Triathlon Rules and Regulations if course officials deem you be blocking other competitors during the bike leg.

A competitor who impedes the forward progress of another competitor will receive a Yellow Card (Stop-Start penalty) for blocking. A blocking penalty can be avoided by safely moving to the left of the cycle lane at every opportunity. Course conditions and the proximity of other competitors will be considered in deciding whether to issue a blocking penalty.

Ensure you leave two (2) bike lengths between yourself and the bike in front.  Any closer and it is considered drafting – which is illegal.

  • The draft zone of a competitor may not overlap the draft zone of another competitor or motorcycle or vehicle except in the following circumstances:
  • (i) when the competitor is in the process of legally passing another competitor or motorcycle or vehicle;
  • (ii) for safety reasons;
  • (iii) for an aid station; TA Race Competition Rules July 2016 – Page 11
  • (iv) for entrance to or departure from a transition area; and
  • (v) in making an acute turn.
  • When passing a forward competitor or motorcycle, the rear competitor is allowed a maximum of 20 seconds to pass through the 10 metre draft zone and 25 seconds to pass through the 12 metre draft zone. Failure to observe this may result in a Blue Card Time penalty for drafting. Also, see Clause 3.11(g) below.
  • When passing a forward vehicle, the rear competitor is allowed a maximum of 90 seconds to pass through the draft zone. Failure to observe this may result in a Blue Card Time penalty for drafting.
  • At every instant during the overlapping of draft zones, the rear competitor must be seen to be gaining on the forward competitor or motorcycle or vehicle. Failure to observe this may result in a Blue Card Time penalty for drafting.
  • Once passed, a competitor must immediately commence to drop back out of the draft zone of the forward competitor, before attempting to re-pass. A competitor is deemed to have been passed once the leading edge of the front wheel of the passing bicycle has moved in front of the leading edge of the front wheel of the passed competitor’s bicycle. Failure to observe this may result in a Blue Card Time penalty for drafting.
  • Professional Athletes – Prior to entering the draft zone of another athlete, professional athletes must safely move to the side of the athlete being passed and remain there during the passing action (ie. no slipstreaming). Failure to do so will result in a Blue Card Time penalty for drafting. Course conditions and the proximity of other competitors will be considered in deciding whether to issue a drafting penalty.
  • Determination of Draft Zone for events with a cycling distance up to and including the standard distance – If the Technical Delegate considers that the design of the cycle course combined with large competitor numbers, cannot accommodate a 10 metre draft zone, then the TD can approve a Special Rule, allowing a 7 metre draft zone and a maximum of 15 seconds to pass through the draft zone. If enacted, the Special Rule must be communicated to all competitors prior to the race.

Roads are closed but locals can get an escort out if they live on the circuit – keep this in mind and abide by road rules.

You may also come across members of the public during your race, particularly in your run leg. If you do encounter a small group, or another walker/jogger whom you are approaching, politely say “passing” or “excuse me”.

Course attendants will more often than not have these areas fenced off with significant signage around for the public. However, it cannot be guaranteed that you may encounter ‘traffic’ from non competitors.

No electronic devices such as MP3 players or such devices are allowed on the course.  You must be able to hear instructions from officials at all times, as well as be alert of your surroundings at all times.

Penalties or Disqualification will apply for those who do not adhere to this rule.

Outside assistance is not allowed during a race.  This means no one can hand or take anything from you on the course;

  • aAssistance provided by event officials, including volunteers, is permitted, but such assistance is limited to the authorised provision of drinks, nutrition and medical needs.
  • Assistance provided by other competitors is permitted, but such assistance is limited to the provision of, drinks, nutrition, pumps, tyres, inner tubes, puncture repair kits and the repair of equipment for safety.
  • Any other assistance from anyone else is deemed to be Outside Assistance. This includes:
    – Provision of any items from another competitor, which will render the donor competitor incapable of completing the race, In this case, both competitors may expect to be disqualified;
    – All mechanical repairs except, for safety reasons where an event official or event official mechanic, may instruct or guide, an athlete to repair or adjust equipment to ensure the athlete can continue in a safe manner.
  • Provision of a replacement wheel or wheels once the event has started is deemed to be Outside Assistance.

Pro Tip Vids

Check out these pro tip vids by Triathlon Experts and Professionals ahead of your next race

Race Tips – Knowing Your Race Day Kit

It’s important to know all of the pieces on your race day kit or pack. Included in your kit is a race belt, timing chip, swimming cap, bike sticker and helmet sticker.

Bike Rules for Triathlon Racing

It’s important to follow the rules and know how to keep everyone safe when on the bike.  Here are our top 10 bikes rules to obey when triathlon triathlon racing.

Transition Set Up with an Olympian 

Ever wondered how the pro’s set up their triathlon transition? Our transition tips & tricks provides you with everything required to have a quick and easy transition.

Want to learn more?

Want to learn more about Triathlon? Then check out our articles, tips and tricks to help you train and get ready for your first triathlon!

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